15.07.13

Deirdre Cowman

Lecturer and author

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Deirdre Cowman has a PhD and BA in psychology and currently works as a lecturer in the psychology department of All Hallows College, Dublin. Deirdre is also founder and co-ordinator of Endangered Bodies Ireland, the Irish branch of an international campaign that challenges the aspects of culture and industries that promote negative body image. Together with her friend Deirdre Ryan she wrote a children’s book called ‘The Magnificent Toby Plum’. This project has given the two Deirdres the opportunity to promote positive body image and appreciation of diversity in readings, talks and workshops with children, parents and teachers. Deirdre enjoys good food and bad jokes and you can find her on Twitter @magnificentlyu

Because I am a girl I ask… that girls and women are valued for all of their amazing qualities and for the many ways they contribute to society. Too often, girls grow up feeling that their value is based on their appearance.

Because I am a girl I believe… that our gender does not define us and that boys and girls deserve to have all the same opportunities in life. While we are often told that ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’, in reality women and men are much more similar than is often portrayed in the media. Within any group of men or group of women, we will find huge variation in personality, beliefs and values so it just doesn’t make sense to lump us all together! Where gender differences do exist, they are often based as much on cultural values and societal expectations as they are on any underlying biological difference.

Because I am a girl I hope… that one day we can live in a world where no girl is denied basic human rights because of her gender.

Because I am a girl I wonder… if I will see greater gender equality in Irish politics in my lifetime. I hope that the introduction of gender quotas brings greater diversity to the Daíl and a change in the political culture in Ireland so that we have a government that really represents Irish people.

Because I am a girl I dream… of a world without sex trafficking and exploitation. The majority of women involved in prostitution have very few real choices and they are at risk of serious emotional and physical harm. I support the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign and I hope that the purchase of sex will be criminalised in Ireland.

Because I am a girl I remember… how lucky I am to have been born into a family that values education and a country provides the same educational opportunities for boys and girls.

Because I am a girl I like… to be around creative and passionate people who care about making the world a better place.

Because I am a girl I dislike… pop-up ads on the internet that promote fad diets, unnecessary and potentially dangerous cosmetic procedures and dodgy pharmaceutical products by making unrealistic promises about weight loss. I block these ads when I can but they just keep coming! There’s big business in making people feel insecure.

Because I am a girl I feel… grateful to have such brilliant family and friends.

Because I am a girl I celebrate… the women who are fighting for change in Ireland and all over the world. There are so many amazing individuals, community groups and non-profit organizations out there doing fantastic work. On a personal level, I am hugely inspired by the brilliant women involved in the Endangered Bodies movement which aims to promote positive body image and challenge the toxic culture of body hatred.

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